I was inspired by a conversation today with a coworker. He said he’s going to write a book on this topic, but, I’ll settle for writing a blog.
I may be one of the least qualified people to speak on behalf of the subject of “love”, more specifically, “romantic” love, but, I have a few opinions. You can take it or leave it.
Love is a choice.
You might say, “But, you can’t help who you love. You can’t help who you fall in love with.”
I would beg to differ.
I beg to differ because I believe there’s a difference between actual love, and attraction/infatuation/butterflies/emotions/etc.
When you meet someone/get to know someone, and they make you feel a certain way–make your heart race, your pupils dilate (it happens when you’re attracted to someone), your knees weak, your palms sweaty, butterflies flutter around violently inside the pit of your stomach—is that love?
Most would say not. I’d agree. All those things deal with attraction–physically/emotionally or whatnot.
Perhaps you would say, “Yes, but, that’s just the beginning. After awhile, somewhere along the line, you realize you love that person.”
You feel love towards that person. You have deep feelings for them that you don’t share for anyone else. So you know that you love them.
So, love is a feeling?
Well, what happens when you don’t feel the same way about that person anymore? What happens when they tick you off, or act like a jerk, or get on your last nerve, or do something really stupid, or hurt you really badly…or grow old and don’t quite look the same as when they were 21?
My coworker friend told me something one of his professors had told him (I will terribly misquote it so, I’m not going to try) about how one of our greatest problems is our obsession with instant gratification.
A feeling is instant. We like how something makes us feel, so we want it, we love it. That satisfies a longing in our hearts. It makes us feel good. And self-centered people (we all are), love to feel good about ourselves.
But, feelings are temporary, aren’t they? They change so quickly. And, with a sinful heart like mine, I would dare to say, I shouldn’t trust my feelings 99.9% of the time.
To this I say once again that love is a choice. It’s a decision you choose to make every single day. You choose to love that person. It’s you waking up declaring that, by God’s grace, you are going to love that person today no matter what. And, that is not easy because we know people are not easy to love.
Yes! Attraction is extremely important (in the sense of romantic love), I would say vital in a marriage (gosh, that would stink if I were to marry and my husband found me unattractive, ha), but, how you feel about someone does not constitute love. You decide to love your husband/wife.
In the midst of so many divorces based on “feelings changing”…I think that just kinda leads back to choice/feeling. Someone made them feel a certain way, so they “loved” them and married them. Things get messy. People hurt people. Feelings change. They want out. They’re done. They just don’t “feel the same way anymore”. Was that ever love or just infatuation?
I always laugh remembering a good friend in high school exclaiming (in response to kids our age saying “I love you” to significant others), “Honey, that is not love…that is just gas!”
I’ve known a few couples who waited until they were engaged to use the “L” word. I thought that was a bit much, until recently.
If a guy told me he loved me (pre-permanent commitment) , to me, that’s him telling me that he is choosing to love me despite myself. If we were to break-up, that just says to me, “I don’t want to love you anymore.” I don’t even have a boyfriend, and that aches. Not sure I could handle that. It would be chocolate and horror flicks for days.
I think it goes for non-romantic love as well. What about people are who more difficult to be kind to or to be around? Why is that? Because they don’t make you feel a certain way…they don’t give you an instant satisfaction in some way shape or form…which goes for people who are easy to “love”.
Christ loves us, so we too ought to love. Love our enemies. Do good to those who hate us. Bless those who curse us. Pray for those who mistreat us.
Enemies. Hate. Curse. Mistreat.
Those words don’t give me very good feelings.
You have to choose to love your enemies. Yes, God’s enabling grace and mercy and strength in you and through you, but, you’re still making a choice. Loving those who are hard to love, does not come naturally. I would say that “loving” people who love us only comes “naturally” because it really goes back to yourself…because they love YOU, it makes you feel good…thus it’s easy to “love” them. But, when those people hurt your feelings…like they will because sinful people hurt other sinful people…it’s not going to be a feeling that gets you through that…it’ll be a choice.
I pray that by God’s mercy, I will choose daily to love people the way He loves people….even when I don’t feel like it. My feelings are terribly misleading and selfish little critters.
“And he said to them, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matt. 22:37-40